About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married, with spectacular stepdaughter, crazy dog, and cat living in the Capital District of New York State.

Now we begin

resOn Good Friday we hear Jesus say:

“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Today what was before us is gone, and now we begin anew.

When I was growing up in the 60’s, I went to a more old fashioned church, a mission parish, very tiny, and traditional. The changes from Vatican II trickled in, but I have very vivid memories of Latin masses, incense, the works. Yet it was not a strict and scolding message, which many others may have heard. Yet, Continue reading

Do you want to live?

the-crucifixion-1311.jpg!BlogA vaccine is made up of something that might harm us, but is used in such a way to give us a dose of it so that we might remain well. Homeopathic medicine has the “law of the similars” which says that substances that might cause ill, when used in particular doses, heal. I’m sure you see a theme emerging.

Once I met a woman who was deadly allergic to cats, but she fell in love with a man who was a cat person. She realized that if they were to ever find happiness, she would need a solution. She told me that she would go up to the cats and hold them to her face, breathing them in, causing congestion and asthma. Eventually she said the symptoms lessened, and her allergy was gone. Love and happiness ensued.

We were at a party when she told this story. A few people, despite seeing a young woman of robust good health before them asked why she would risk her life by going head first – literally – into what might have killed her. Her reply was simple – because of love.

Today we are faced with the Cross. The conundrum of death leading to new life hits is before us. Will we take some of the poison in order that we might be healed?

With that thought in mind I find myself going to John 5:6 when Jesus asks a man, “Do you want to be well?” Today I ask myself – do I want to live?

If the answer to either question is yes, I have to do something. No, not the rugged independence of healing or saving myself, but rather the taking of the medicine that might kill me, so that I might live. In this case the medicine is the cross, a sure and certain death, so that I might live. In this context, the question of whether I want to live or not takes on a new meaning.

Of course I want to live. Don’t you? But are we willing to die in order to do so? Today we commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion. Many non-Catholics recoil at our crucifixes with dead, sometimes bloody Jesus on them. Someone recently wrote to me in an email, “The first thing you Catholics have to do is get rid of those awful crosses!”

But no. We are the Body of Christ. The incarnation, which is at the heart of all of this, God made flesh, demands that we, like the woman at the party, inhale deeply the scent of death. The only reason to do such a thing is love, the love of Christ.

What will you choose today? Good Friday after Good Friday, frankly – day after day – I want to be healed, I want to live, but I employ stupendously complicated mechanisms to avoid the cross. That’s why I need to see the whole picture, not seeing just a dead and bloodied man, but seeing open arms and the invitation to love and to life.

The question comes before us today in a special way. What will we choose? Do we want to be healed? Do we want to live? The only response for me is to open my arms, inhale deeply, and go to the cross. Christ is there. Will you be there too?

Holy Thursday ¡Presente!

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday and we remember the martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero. ¡Presente! – this is a term is meant to say that they who once were are with us now. So it is with Christ our Savior and with all those who have gone before us.

a-young-romero-celebrating-mass

A young Bl. Oscar Romero celebrates mass

Let us look at the words found in one of the Eucharistic Prayers that are used at mass in the Catholic church. They speak to what we do on Holy Thursday, and what we do every time we celebrate liturgy.

He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love.

While they were at supper, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.

In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Take this,” Jesus said, “all of you, and eat it.” These words are powerful, a reminder of the real presence we know today. Christ made real and present, as Flannery O’Connor once famously said, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”  That’s why on Holy Thursday, punctuated this year by the anniversary of Blessed Oscar Romero’s death, the real should be very clear to us. Things were very real for Romero as he was martyred while offering mass in El Salvador on this day in 1984. Make no mistake, we do not need martyrs for any
“real” to happen.

Today let us live deeply the meaning of eucharist, which is rooted in eucharistia, or thanksgiving. Let us live deeply that thanksgiving for the life of Christ, the lives of the saints and martyrs, meaning those known to us, and those unknown. Many an unnamed saint is an anonymous person to the world, but a treasure to God. Everything we do is very real, may the real presence of Jesus nourish us all, and give us strength.

(If you are in the Albany, NY area please join us for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Roman Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park at 7:30pm. All are truly welcome.)

Mixed messages

pietro_di_giovanni_dambrogio__entry_into_jerusalem__1435-40__pinacoteca_stuard_parmaPalm Sunday is here and once again we hear the familiar story of The Passion retold; we will hear it again on Friday. Today we also hear of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with cries of “Hosanna! Hosanna!” It won’t be long Continue reading

A Perfect and Generous Love – a guest post

Today’s post comes to us from guest blogger and first time contributor to our blog, Susan Francesconi of The Good Disciple. We welcome her with great joy!

buds 3416 3rd Lent copyMarch 4, 2016: Friday of The Third Week Of Lent

It happens every year about this time, give or take a couple of weeks. Of course, I am talking about the midpoint of Lent, but I’m also talking about the change of seasons. Lent, like spring, is a time of conversion, of reawakening, of planting new seeds, of grace-filled turnings, returnings, and reconciliations.

Around the fourth week of our Lenten practice, new spiritual growth emerges like tender buds urged on by shortened nights. We carefully push back the winter mulch and beckon the sun’s warming rays.

This morning as I walked my dog, a neighbor who I pass every day remarked: “you look happy this morning.” He was right; I know I had joy written all over my face. The birds seemed to chant, Come out! Come out! Squirrels giddily complied, springing crazily from tree to tree, dropping to the ground, and diving in and out of unraked leaves. I spied a family of eight wild turkeys jauntily making their way up a neighbor’s drive. Upon my return I searched the back of my garden for surprises, something I do every morning now. Two days ago I noticed a few snowdrops pushing through the mulch; today I saw hundreds waving their happy little heads in the breeze.

On days like this, when Continue reading

Pilgrim update

cropped-singlestepheader32It has been awhile since I have posted anything about my camino, so I thought I would pop in with an update, and to ask about any prayers or intentions you would like to send to me.

At this moment in time we are about 200 days out from departure, give or take. That number sounds comfortingly far away at some level, and terrifyingly close at another level! The good news is that I have been much more active this winter than any prior winter. The bad news is that I am not sure I have been active enough, but I’m trying. Today I did about 7.5 miles and 19 flights of stairs. What worries me is 7.5 miles with a 15 pound pack on my back!

One of my biggest concerns, and this could be the dealbreaker, will be Continue reading

Catholics for Trump?

Hello readers – I have a question for you. Are any of you Catholics who support Donald Trump? I am not asking this in order to bash you and break you, I am honestly curious. If I get some good and legitimate replies, I will write more about this. Honestly, it is beyond my understanding, but I’m asking to learn more.

In order to avoid comment wars, I will ask you to comment in order to get your reply, but know that I will not publish any of the comments. Your email addresses show up for me, so I may send you a note for clarification.

If you know someone who has found a way to reconcile their Catholic faith and Trump, please pass this along to them. As I said, I do not get it, but I have questions and I do not want to fight. There is a Facebook page called Catholics for Donald Trump, but I am not sure I would trust that as a resource. There does not appear to be any group with a website; well not just yet anyway.

Please know that your confidentiality is assured unless you wish to be revealed should I write further about this topic. Thanks.

PS – People who do not love Trump, I know you do not love him. Please bear with me here!